Fact Finders: What’s up with all those Missouri cars with only one license plate?

“They don’t give you two in case you lose one.”
Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 9:42 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - We’re noticing a number of cars, pickups and SUV’s out on Missouri roads with upside down and backwards license plates, decorative plates or no plates at all.

That leads us to this Fact Finders. Do you need a front and back license plate on your car in Missouri? The answer is YES. Missouri is a two plate state.

Despite what you see on the road, The Missouri Department of Revenue tells us in legal language, “Each such plate shall be securely fastened to the motor vehicle or trailer in a manner so that all parts thereof shall be plainly visible and reasonably clean so that the reflective qualities thereof are not impaired. Each such plate may be encased in a transparent cover so long as the plate is plainly visible and its reflective qualities are not impaired.”

In plain language, both plates need to be securely fastened to your motor vehicle and an officer needs to be able to see the numbers clearly.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol can pull you over if you don’t do follow the rule. Sergeant Michael McClure says the conversation goes something like this, “This is the reason I stopped you. I noticed you don’t have a front plate. Do you know where it is? And, you get the gamut of answers. And, usually it’s I didn’t know we had to have two plates on there. And, the response is, they don’t give you two in case you lose one.”

Typically, the patrol will give you a warning and tell you to fix the problem.

Now, some people don’t have the holes in the front of the car because they bought the vehicle from a one plate state. So, you may have to drill the holes in your front bumper for the bracket. A local auto parts store told us, a plate bracket runs about $6.

One more thing, some heavy duty trucks like a 12,000 pound farm truck may not require a rear plate. But, you’ll pay more to register that vehicle and the state will only give you one plate (you’ll pay more and get one less plate).

Bottom line, if you get two plates. Put both of them on.

If you live in Arkansas, the law states you only need one license plate.

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